Hybrid return to work could signal higher energy bills for thousands of businesses
Employees could be costing organisations thousands per year in unnecessary energy usage
Energy experts also warn of adverse impact to organisations’ green credentials
As the UK reaches the latest milestone in its reopening roadmap, business energy experts, Gazprom Energy, are warning business owners, and their employees, to be more consumption conscious in order to avoid unnecessary energy costs and to maintain sustainability efforts.
This month Britons have started returning to the workplace in droves, with 85% of the rail network now running and rush-hour traffic congestion in London at 65% – 10% up month on month, according to the Department for Transport.
As the return to the workplace continues to gather momentum, research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 63% of employers plan to implement a hybrid working policy. With many employees rotating between the workplace and home, and some premises left either partially or completely empty, it’s possible that lights, heating, appliances and electronic equipment may be left turned on, or on standby, for extended periods of time.
According to research conducted by the B2B energy supplier, 75% of corporate businesses say that reducing energy consumption is one of their biggest energy challenges. Yet, the supplier warns that employees could be running up thousands in additional energy bills as lighting and heating are not turned off in between infrequent workplace visits. This could equate to thousands in avoidable operating costs, particularly for those with large premises, and have a negative impact on an organisation’s sustainability initiatives.
The business energy supplier estimates that heating left on in the workplace overnight costs, on average, £125.56 per sq. ft per year. Likewise, lighting left on overnight could cost £439.49 per sq. ft per year. Workplaces that have air conditioning could also be wasting £188.34 per sq. ft per year.
Each employee could also be wasting more than £10 worth of energy in the workplace per year by leaving personal electronic devices on standby when not in use. This could prove costly for businesses of 100 employees or more, and those that rely heavily on machinery and technology.
A personal computer (PC) left on standby in the workplace costs, on average, £9.74 annually to power, as it still uses energy despite lying dormant. This is also the case for laptops – £4.87, additional PC monitors – £0.70, televisions – £16.24, printers/scanners – £6.50, stereo systems – £4.87, smart speakers – £3.25, DAB radios – £3.25, and mobile phone/tablet chargers – £0.32.
Employees could potentially also be racking up thousands more in extra costs by leaving shared appliances turned on when not in use. Workplace kitchens contain a myriad of communal appliances that are often left turned on and/or plugged in while not in use. A dishwasher on standby incurs £4.87 of electricity annually, a kettle – £4.87, a coffee machine – £1.62, and a microwave – £1.62.
Gazprom Energy suggests organisations put measures in place to ensure all employees check both personal and communal devices before leaving the premises, especially when they are not returning the following day.
Daniel Sullivan - Head of UK Sales at Gazprom Energy, said: “While the UK readjusts to working life post-lockdown, energy consumption should be top of mind for businesses.
With more time between visits to the workplace, there’s a much greater potential for electronics, lighting and heating to be left turned on, or on standby, when not in use. With many predicting that hybrid working will last for at least 12 months, employees could be accumulating a hefty electricity and gas bill for their organisation.
“Increasing awareness of how much energy is used by appliances, machinery and devices on standby will go some way to reducing excess consumption. Businesses should encourage their employees to take responsibility for usage by turning off and unplugging devices that are not required. A member of the team – typically the last out – can also be nominated to check the status of communal electronics, lighting and heating before leaving the premises. Alternatively, businesses can install timers and sensors to increase the energy efficiency of the workplace, allowing for better automation and management.
“While individual costs are relatively small, the combined effect means there is a greater level of unnecessary energy consumption, which creates a detrimental ecological impact and can put a dent in an organisation’s sustainability initiatives. With many businesses having green objectives and targets, we must do everything possible as a collective to reach them.”